The Cancer Systems Therapeutics (CaST) Outreach helps foster community building throughout the NCI Cancer Systems Biology Consortium (CSBC). The overall mission of the CaST Outreach Core is to advance progress in cancer systems biology by tapping into and making connections across research talent at all stages of educational and professional attainment. A unique component is our partnership with motivated undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate students from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York (CUNY). These students comprise the first cohort of the CaST Scholars Program and are immersed in the cutting-edge biological and biomedical science underlying Cancer Systems Biology. In subsequent years, CaST Outreach will partner with students from other CUNY Senior Colleges while continuing interactions with our Brooklyn College Scholars. This integrative approach will create a network of CaST Scholars throughout the CUNY system. Because Systems Biology is highly interdisciplinary, participants in the program can come from many backgrounds, including biology, computer science, physics, chemistry, genomics, engineering, and other fields.

The program has no fixed curriculum and each of nine Brooklyn College students has developed an individualized CSBC educational plan tailored to their interests. The CaST Scholars Program opportunities include 1) tuition-free attendance at a master’s level Systems Biology course taught by a CaST investigator and offered through Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies; 2) supported attendance at the AACR annual meeting; 3) monthly informal discussion meetings with CaST investigators; 4) weekly formal tutorials in the design and applications of CaST computational algorithms; 5) research internships with CaST investigators; 6) participation in a wide-range of Center activities; 7) a scholarship to support participation; and 8) ongoing mentorship from CaST investigators.

This poster provides summaries of the collaborative, synergistic experiences and achievements of each Scholar and of the group as a whole. The CaST Scholars Program offers a unique opportunity for early-stage scientists to learn how Systems Biology is transforming cancer research and precision medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Regardless of their chosen professional path, CaST Scholars will obtain a solid foundation in the methods and potential of Cancer Systems Biology.

Citation Format: Rahimah Ahmad, Tasnim Azad, Carlos Barreto, Kamrun Begum, Mahlaqa Butt, Daniel Gruffat, Aulon Jerliu, Jonathan Kwiat, Mikaela Murph, Katherine A. Rivera Gómez, Barry Honig, Andrea Califano, Shaneen Singh, Diana Murray. Columbia University’s Center for Cancer Systems Therapeutics (CaST) 2017 Scholars Program: A synergistic partnership with students from Brooklyn College, CUNY [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017; 2017 Apr 1-5; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2017;77(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 2609. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-2609